Motivations behind Union soldiers and what drove them to fight for the United States in the war
Although Union soldiers primarily fought to preserve the United States as a country, they fought to end slavery as well, stating that:
While restoration of the Union was the main goal for which they fought, they became convinced that this goal was unattainable without striking against slavery.
- Confederate soldiers did not discuss the issue of slavery as often as Union soldiers did, because most Confederate soldiers readily accepted as an obvious fact that they were fighting to perpetuate slavery, and thus did not feel a need to debate over it:
- Only 20 percent of the sample of 429 Southern soldiers explicitly voiced proslavery convictions in their letters or diaries.
- As one might expect, a much higher percentage of soldiers from slaveholding families than from nonslaveholding families expressed such a purpose: 33 percent, compared with 12 percent.
Ironically, the proportion of Union soldiers who wrote about the slavery question was greater. There is a ready explanation for this apparent paradox.
- Emancipation was a salient issue for Union soldiers because it was controversial.
- Slavery was less salient for most Confederate soldiers because it was not controversial. They took slavery for granted as one of the Southern ‘rights’ and institutions for which they fought, and did not feel compelled to discuss it.-
- Reference: James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1997), pp. 109–110